Stress and Your Bones

You’re pretty special.

On this planet, it’s rare to have bones. Only two percent of the animal species living on Earth have an internal skeleton. The rest of the living creatures here are invertebrates like insects, shellfish, and arachnids.

But you have 206 bones inside your body making up this important structural component. Your hands and your feet contain more than half of the bones in your body—in two hands and two feet alone, there are 106 bones.

How do you take care of this important body system?

Diet and exercise are important. But stress is also a factor that can literally eat away at your bones. Let’s look at why this might be.

HOW YOUR BONES WORK

Your skeletal system has many jobs. Here are a few:

  • Provides locomotion
  • Protects your brain and other vital organs
  • Manufactures blood cells
  • Stores and regulates minerals

We don’t often think of them this way, but bones are living, growing tissue. About every 7 years, you have a new skeletal system as your bones are constantly being replaced. Bones are made of calcium and other minerals and a protein called collagen. Bone tissue comes in two different types—cortical and cancellous. Cortical bone is the outer layer of bone; the hard, protective layer. Cancellous bone is the inner layer, where bone marrow is manufactured and stored. Bones also store calcium and other minerals so that when other parts of the body need minerals to function correctly, they release these minerals into the bloodstream.

work-in-progress-sign-held-by-construction-worker_Gy6W2Vvd.jpgYour bones are constantly under construction. Osteoclasts are busy absorbing old bone cells while osteoblasts are building new bone to take their place. When you’re young, the osteoblasts are hard at work building lots of bone cells. But as you age, the osteoclasts start to take over, leading to a general loss of bone mass. When a certain level of bone mass is lost, you develop osteoporosis, a condition where your bones are very brittle and more likely to break. In some cases, when the bone becomes very porous, it’s possible to break a bone with just a sneeze!

When you break a bone, your body immediately starts to heal it by sending connective tissue cells. These cells produce collagen and work to bridge the gap in the bone. New blood vessels start to form to help grow the new bone cells produced by the osteoblasts. These tissues are soft at first, but eventually harden into new bone.

HOW STRESS AFFECTS YOUR BONES

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Stress is one factor that is believed to interrupt your skeletal structure. But why?

Remember from the Stress & Your Health blog post that the cells in your body work best when the environment surrounding them is kept constant. Stress (from either external or internal sources) disrupts the environment around the cells.  If not kept to a minimum, stress can challenge the body’s ability to correct the disruption. This places cells under stressed conditions (called “oxidative stress”) and interrupts their ability to function normally. Over time, cell malfunction leads to a disruption of entire body systems which impacts your ability to function optimally.

When you’re under a lot of stress, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. When this happens, cortisol levels increase which reduces the body’s ability to absorb calcium, a nutrient the osteoblasts need to build strong bones. Additionally, your body concentrates on the systems that are necessary to fight the perceived danger, making it difficult for your bones to perform their reconstruction duties, maintain a healthy density and regulate the minerals that your body needs.

So what can you do to optimize your bone health? KEEP OXIDATIVE STRESS TO A MINIMUM!

Click here to get information about the supplement I take because it lowers oxidative stress by 40% in 30 days.

BOOST YOUR BONE HEALTH

Here are some tips to keep your skeletal structure functioning at its best:

  • Get moving! Weight-bearing exercises are good for bone health. Walking, jogging, dancing, aerobics, weight lifting, and climbing stairs can help slow bone loss. Even if all you can do is walk for a few moments each day, get out and do it! Exercise may also help the glands in your body continue to produce the hormones that are necessary to maintain your bone density.
  • Include good sources of minerals and vitamins in your diet. Good sources of calcium are green veggies like spinach, kale, cabbage, and broccoli. Get your vitamin C from bell peppers, oranges, pineapples, strawberries, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Get some sun. Your body uses vitamin D to absorb calcium, so a few minutes in the sun each day can help your body manufacture the vitamin D it needs.
  • Watch what you drink. Don’t drink carbonated beverages, especially colas. These have been shown to interfere with the mineral balance in the body and can keep your bones from absorbing the minerals they need. Avoid drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day.
  • Quit smoking. Smokers have lower bone mass and a higher risk of fractures. The reasons for this are not yet understood, but the risks get higher with the increase in years smoked and number of cigarettes smoked.

This blog courtesy of LifeVantage Corporation.

I value your input.

God bless you,
Connie Suarez
720-507-8231
conniesuarez@prezzurepointz.com

I remember that this time ten years ago, I was feeling somehow cheated.

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Someone took this picture on my flip phone after another car flipped and took my car with it April 15, 2007.

Four months before I was exhilarated at having been spared from death. I was sure that God had sent angels to protect me.

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This is the car in the lot where is was towed.

But four months afterward it occurred to me that if I had died in the horrendous car crash, I would be enjoying heaven. My gratitude to God for saving me had eroded into depression.

For several years that depression, though not deep, motivated me to long for death.

I never was close to contemplating suicide. I just wished that God had taken me home in the car accident.

The reason I thought of those dark moments today is that now I am doing everything I can to live to be a hundred.

I would still welcome an earlier “home” going if God chooses, but in the meantime, I love my life and have many things I still want to accomplish.

To achieve my goal, there is something that I must do.

I must work to stay healthy.

I must maintain a healthy weight.

Back in March, I started a weight management regimen with a product line from my company.

Healthy foodI had confidence that these products along with exercise and a healthy diet would help me keep my body at a weight that would give my 71-year-old joints relief and would reduce the unhealthy belly fat that I am genetically predisposed to carry.

Those two things could extend my life and my enjoyment of that life.

And I had lost weight.

Then life happened.

First, I went into comfort food mode after my sister-in-law passed away.

Then, I went into resort food mode when I traveled with family to Los Cabos to celebrate my daughter’s wedding.

Third, I didn’t exercise will power to get back to the plan.

I have been indulging myself long after the excuses I gave myself had passed.

As of yesterday, I had gained back everything I had lost in March and more.

celebration-background_My2UqpjO_L.jpgYesterday, I resumed the plan.

I am counting calories, eating healthy food, and taking probiotics that get to where my digestive system can use them, a fat burner that targets my unhealthy belly fat and protein that will help keep me on target.

I took before pictures, measurements, and weight.

I am not posting them here. You may at some point see the pictures with an amazing after picture.Before Picture

But let’s be realistic. Time and gravity have taken their toll. So, you are most likely spared the sight.

And my goal is not to get into a bikini. I never have worn one. I am not starting now. My goal is to feel better and live longer.

I will not divulge my weight or measurements.

I do plan to post weekly overall results. I need all the aids I can, including accountability to you.

A prayer directed my way would also be welcome.

How is my depression doing?

Mostly, it is gone.

SAD, seasonal affective disorder, has been an issue for me in the past. So, with more cloudy days that usual it should be flaring right now but it is not.

I can’t prove it; but I think that the supplement I have been taking is largely responsible.

Another factor must be that God has given me the ability to be home with Mom, caring for her and our home. That is what I am hard wired to do.

For me, working from home has always been what I wanted to do. Now I am doing that and still learning and achieving new skills.

Life is good.

It will be even better in a couple of months when I have reached my weight goal.

I welcome your comments.

Feel free to email me.

God bless you,
Connie Suarez
720-507-8231
conniesuarez@prezzurepointz.com

What is Confidence and How Do You Get It?

Stepping out of my comfort zone is a sure way to grow in self confidence.

Keep reading this blog from connie.lifevantage.com to learn a surprising comment from Vincent van Gogh.

Think of a confident person in your life. It may include a fearless coworker in the face of adversity or a friend who doesn’t care what anyone thinks when they hit the dance floor. Though these people may have the “fake it ‘till you make it” mentality down, being truly confident involves much more. A confident person shows competence and intelligence in a natural and quiet demeanor.

As such, confidence can impact all aspects of your life. From work and school, to social and family relationships, it can determine success as well as open the door to new opportunities.

Read to learn more about confidence, how you can continue to build self-confidence and see the positive impacts in your life.

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WHAT IS CONFIDENCE?

As Vincent van Gogh explains, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Confidence is the belief in one’s ability to succeed. It’s not just a behavior, it can also be seen in our body language. From eye contact to good posture and smiling more often, looking confident plays an important role to your overall confidence level.

Although this may come more naturally for some people, confidence is a behavior that can be learned and incorporated in various facets of your life. How? From gaining better listening skills to owning and growing through mistakes and being ambitious in your actions, there are many ways to grow as a confident person. Observe the confident people in your life, and take note of their qualities. It can help show you how diverse real confidence is in the world.

WHY DOES CONFIDENCE MATTER SO MUCH?

When you are confident, it can improve your quality of life and affect your success in work, school, relationships and more. More importantly, confidence correlates with self-esteem. John M. Grohol, Psy.D. explains,

“People with a good and healthy self-esteem are able to feel good about themselves for who they are, appreciate their own worth, and take pride in their abilities and accomplishments. They also acknowledge that while they’re not perfect and have faults, those faults don’t play an overwhelming or irrationally large role in their lives or their own self-image (how you see yourself).”

In addition to self-esteem, confidence is how we are able to keep learning and developing in order to contribute to our communities and to the world. If we all lacked confidence and as such, self-esteem, there would be no education, progression or innovation within our society. When it comes down to it, confidence impacts the way we choose to live our lives.

HOW TO BUILD SELF-CONFIDENCE

So, what’s the best way to build confidence? Below are various ways that can help you boost self-confidence:

Exercise: Exercise is a great remedy, especially when you feel stressed or anxious (which kills confidence). Look for ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Whether you enjoy practicing yoga at home after a long day in the office, play a pick-up basketball game with your friends on the weekends or take a quick walk outside in between work meetings—there are many activities that can help reduce stress and boost confidence.

Make a list of your strengths: When was the last time you’ve sat down and thought about what you excel at? Spend 5 to 10 minutes creating the list, thinking also about what other people have observed or admired about you. Once you’ve created the list, turn the paper over and make a list of what you want to become better at. Whether you want to improve or develop a new skill or educate yourself in a new topic, working on self-improvement can help increase your confidence, especially in new situations.

Set a small goal: With the above list you made, pick a small goal and work to achieve it—something reasonable that can be accomplished in the timeframe of a couple of weeks. This is a good habit to develop, as each goal you’ll achieve will not only boost self-confidence, but allow you to start setting bigger goals.

Listen: Confident people are not afraid to take the backseat and listen when having a conversation. If the conversation lulls, instead of filling the air with your own comments, ask thoughtful questions or advice to not only show respect to the person you’re communicating with, but to give yourself the opportunity to learn something new.

Volunteer: When’s the last time you’ve given back to the community? A great way to grow self-confidence is to forget about your own needs for a couple of hours and devote your time volunteering for a good cause. Serving those in your local communities boosts positive emotions that directly impact your confidence.

See also: 7 Ways to Look Confident, Especially When You Aren’t.

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DON’T STOP IMPROVING

The key with confidence is to always keep growing it—learn new things, put yourself in new situations or opportunities to succeed in. But more importantly, catch yourself when you’re not feeling confident. Stop the vicious doubts or thoughts in your head the moment they come up and instead, take a step back, relax and reassure yourself of your abilities. Lastly, when working on confidence, don’t abandon who you are. Being comfortable with yourself and your interests creates a natural confident behavior.

All in all, having confidence can help propel you forward in the various aspects of your life. To truly achieve confidence, you must be confident in your words and actions. This also means being comfortable with who you are and within your own skin.

 

How Exercise Keeps Your DNA Young

To stay young, you have to keep your cells young, and what dictates a cell’s age is its DNA.

Too many cycles of dividing can trigger the aging process, until eventually the cell peters out and stops dividing altogether.

Learn more in this article from Time magazine.

But now researchers have found that exercise can help keep DNA healthy and young. In a small study published in the journal Science Advances, Anabelle Decottignies, from the de Duve Institute at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, and her colleagues found that just moderate-intensity physical activity helps hold back cell aging.

medical_110006039-011314intThey studied a specific part of DNA that keeps track of how many times a cell has divided. Each time a cell divides, it copies its DNA (which is packed into chromosomes) and this section of the chromosomes, called telomeres, gets shorter. In the study, Decottignies identified a molecule that’s responsible for directing this telomere-shortening. Until this work, not much was known about how the chromosomes controlled this DNA snipping process. Decottignies recruited 10 healthy people to ride stationary bicycles for 45 minutes and took a muscle biopsy from each of their legs before and after the cycling session. She also measured blood levels of muscle function with lactate, which muscle cells produce when stressed.

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Based on analysis of these samples, the researchers found that a compound called nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF1) regulates the production of a factor that in turn controls the shortening of the telomeres.

Exercise boosts levels of NRF1, which protects the telomeres from being snipped away.

“Think about NRF1 like varnish on nails,” says Decottignies. “You cannot change the nail, but you can change the varnish again and again.

What you’re doing is refreshing and replacing the old section with new protective molecules at the telomeres.”

To learn about a Nrf1 Synergizer click here.

With each bout of moderate exercise, she says, the protection to the telomeres is refreshed, thus helping the DNA, and in turn the cells, to remain “younger” and hold off the aging process. “The protection is constantly renewed upon exercise,” says Decottignies.

Other evidence supports the connection between exercise and its effect on telomeres.

NRF1 is also part of the pathway that’s activated during starvation; some studies have indeed hinted that a fasting diet may help cells stay biologically young and not divide as frequently.

In the study, the team didn’t actually measure whether the 45 minutes led to longer telomeres, but that’s a focus of future studies.

For now, the findings provide strong support for a way that exercise may keep us young by keeping our DNA young.

Source: http://time.com/4426572/exercise-dna-telomeres/

I hardly ever exercise 45 minutes; at least not formal exercise. I walk Max for about 15 minutes. Yard work and house cleaning seldom last 45 minutes. But I have found a Nrf1 supplement that I will take for the rest of my life. And, because of it I expect to live a long time. Want to learn more about my supplement? Click on this link.

God bless you,

Connie Suarez

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Our Amazing Bodies

We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

What do you suppose made King David say that in Psalm 139?

He didn’t have access to the science we do today. Sure, you don’t need to know the details of how our bodies function to see that our bodies function amazingly. Still, I happen to love learning about the science of our bodies.

What about you? Do you like to learn science facts? Are you fascinated by how our bodies work?

Here are some facts that I learned from the video below:

  • Microbes outnumber human cells in our body by a factor of 10:1 [That was news to me.]
  • The medical paradigm for the last 70 years can work to disrupt the way microbes work in our body [I knew that. Bet you do too.]
  • Restoring the balance of microbes in our body is possible through the use of prebiotics and probiotics
  • Not all probiotics are effective

What do you think? Who knew we were more microbial than human?

Click on this link to learn more.

Feel free to message me to discuss this.

 

 

The Best (Free) Workouts for People Who Don’t Have Time to Work Out

Is your routine giving you the workout you need? Are you like me and wondering if you should do more but not sure how to fit it into your schedule?

Check out this blog and let me know which one of the suggestions appeals to you.

2017-05-16_1527Look, we get it: just doing the bare essentials of living is enough to make you exhausted. Of course you want to be healthy, but there isn’t enough time to commit to a gym routine. So what’s the answer? Ditch the gym.

After your commute, work day, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, walking the dog, and maybe squeezing in a few loads of laundry, working out is the last thing you want to do. Getting to the gym just eats up more of your day: you’ve got to change, drive to the gym, do your workout, drive back, and then shower. We get how impossible and frustrating it may seem to squeeze in a workout routine, but luckily there are options. And they don’t involve the gym.

1. EXERCISE WHILE YOU NETFLIX

There’s a pretty big chance you make time for a few episodes every night. Guess what? That’s workout time. Pinterest has a giant collection of workouts to do during commercial breaks or during your favorite show. Take the Walking Dead workout, for example: every time a walker is killed, you do 5 crunches. Every time someone cries, you do 3 squats. It’ll add up quickly. From Harry Potter to Gossip Girl, if you have a favorite show, chances are there’s a workout to accompany it. No gym required.

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2. SUBSCRIBE TO POPSUGAR

There are loads of YouTube channels with high-quality, no-cost fitness videos. We happen to love POPSUGAR because there are dozens of fantastic, fun workouts updated regularly and totally free. Most of them are about a half hour long and they don’t require any special equipment, so you can click “play” when you get home from work, get your heart pumping for a half hour, and then get on with the rest of your night. Only have 15 minutes? No problem. They’ve got videos for that too.

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3. UTILIZE THAT LUNCH BREAK

You’re legally required to have a lunch break, so that’s a half hour to an hour available to work out away from the distractions at home. There are hundreds of suggestions for a lunch break workout online, but we really like this simple one from The Love Fit Life. Follow the infographic below for your first workout, then branch into some of the other suggestions online. Oh, think you can’t work out because you didn’t bring a change of clothes? Let me introduce you to the wonders of dress pant yoga pants. They exist and you need them. Problem solved.

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4. RUN FROM ZOMBIES

You’re on your phone all day anyway, so you may as well use it to get moving. If you hate running aimlessly around your neighborhood, Zombies, Run! is the answer, and it will both terrify and delight you. Set the workout to however long you have (15 minutes is fine), and a zombie story will start playing. When you hear the zombies start to come, you’ll need to start running even faster. The app relies on GPS to narrate a story based on what you’re seeing in real life. It’s way less terrifying than the gym changing room and a lot more fun.

5. DO A QUICK HIIT WORKOUT

Even ten minutes is better than not getting any exercise at all. With that in mind, Daily Burn has fantastic high intensity interval training routines that can be tailored to fit in your day, even if you only have ten minutes. Using nothing more than your own body strength and a chair, you’ll feel an intense burn that’s just as satisfying as a longer workout. Check out their free workouts here.

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There you go, five fun and free workouts that can absolutely fit into your day, no matter how busy you may be. Even if you only have 15 minutes, you can spend that time getting fit and feeling more prepared to handle the other 1,425 minutes in your day.

PhysIQ

Manage your weight the smart way.

START LOSING WEIGHT

5 Health Benefits of Probiotics You Should Know About

Portrait of happy pretty young woman doctor using stethoscope

You’ve heard of antibiotics. And now “probiotics” are big in the news. If you’re wondering what they are and why you might want them, read on!

“Probiotic” is a word with Greek roots: “pro” meaning “promoting” and “biotic” meaning “life.” The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”

We usually think of bacteria as bad for us, and the wrong bacteria in the wrong place can certainly cause problems. But the right bacteria in the right place can be helpful in many ways. They can keep your digestive and immune systems healthy, help you manage weight, boost your mood, and possibly even keep you feeling and looking younger.

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1. PROBIOTICS AND GUT HEALTH

The most common reason to use probiotics is to support gut health. Research shows that probiotics work to restore the gut back to a healthy, optimally functioning state. Once the gut is in full working order, it can do its job to help support the immune system and maintain normal functions of the gut.

People who have used antibiotics long-term, or those with other gut issues, may benefit from adding a dose of healthy bacteria to their gut. But there are many other reasons to use a probiotic every day. 

2. PROBIOTICS AND WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

The idea that probiotics can assist in weight management is based on the theory that the type and amount of bacteria in the gut has a major impact on a person’s health. One study looking at the effects of probiotics on weight showed that when people used specific strains of bacteria, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis, they had an overall reduction in fat mass, body weight, and weight gain. In a review of 82 probiotic-related studies, the bacteria Lactobacillus plantarum appeared to be associated with weight loss.

In another review, researchers compiled the findings from 25 randomized human trials with over 1,900 healthy adults, investigating what kind of impact consuming probiotics had on body weight and BMI. They found modest reductions in BMI and body weight. But there was also enough evidence that even these modest reductions could have a positive impact on overall health and reduce the risk of conditions related to BMI and body weight. This study found that taking more than one type of probiotic for more than 8 weeks was most helpful.

Even though some still dispute the idea that probiotics can help with weight management, there are plenty of other good reasons to make one part of your daily routine.

3. PROBIOTICS AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

Probiotics have been shown to support the immune system. Researchers recommend starting probiotics at least two weeks before the cold and flu season starts. Some researchers believe that probiotics interact with a person’s genetic makeup to actually change the immune system, making it function more efficiently. Harvard researchers recognized a connection between the bacteria in the gut and how well the immune system functions, but currently they aren’t exactly sure how this connection works.

A study of New Zealand rugby players showed that these athletes had 40 percent fewer colds and gastrointestinal infections when they took a probiotic as compared to those who took a placebo. An extra healthy immune system to help you fight off colds and flu is just one more good reason to take a probiotic.

4. PROBIOTICS AND MOOD

Everyone knows that what you eat has an effect on how you feel physically. But how about mentally? Plenty of us get an upset stomach when we’re worried about something, and there’s growing evidence that the mind-body connection centers on gut health. According to Kelly Brogan, a psychiatrist who uses probiotics to help her patients, “Probiotic supplements and a change in diet can, in effect, rewire the brain.” Another study found that probiotics can help relieve the symptoms of people who are feeling anxious.

5. PROBIOTICS AND SKIN

If you’re still not convinced you need probiotics, maybe this will change your mind: probiotics have been linked to antiaging effects, including skin improvements. You’ve probably heard of spa treatments like putting yogurt directly on the skin. But a study showed that taking probiotics orally can help protect the skin from the sun and help promote the quality of your skin and hair.

Dr. Whitney Bowe, an NYC dermatologist who studies probiotics, uses probiotics to help patients with antiaging and also to help with chronic skin conditions. Looking and feeling younger is a great reason to use a probiotic.

THE RIGHT PROBIOTICS

The human body carries around 100 trillion microorganisms in the gut. How do you know which are the right ones to help you? The studies quoted above have thoroughly investigated the strains of probiotics found to support gut and immune system function, lift mood, manage weight, and feel all-around better. These are the exact strains of probiotics found in PhysIQ ProBio by LifeVantage.

PhysIQ ProBio provides 6 billion CFUs of healthy bacteria to support your digestive system. This product uses proven ingredients as well as controlled-release technology, known as BIO-Tract®, which delivers live probiotics deep into your gut over a 10–12 hour period. The probiotic also includes Wellmune® which helps boost your immune system to bring you closer to your health goals. PhysIQ ProBio includes six different strains of probiotics: Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus casei, Lacotbacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium longum. Each strain provides unique benefits to many systems in the body.

PhysIQ™ ProBio

A healthy gut for a healthier you.

TRY IT TODAY

Fiber: Are You Getting Enough?

You probably know that fiber is important to good health, but do you know if you are getting enough?Fruits and vegetables on rustic background

This article from WebMD is not startling new information. It is just the sort of thing I like to remind myself about and thought I would share with you. You may like the suggested meal plan in this article. Connie Suarez

Most Americans aren’t. The average adult only eats 15 grams of fiber per day.

Women need 25 grams of fiber per day, and men need 38 grams per day, according to the Institute of Medicine.

Closing the Fiber Gap

Eating more plant foods — vegetables, beans, fruit, whole grains, and nuts — is the best way and is one of the recommendations from the U.S. government’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines.

These foods are all naturally rich in nutrients, including fiber, and provide all the health benefits that go along with a fiber-rich diet.

mixed bean saladTop sources of fiber are: beans (all kinds), peas, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, artichokes, whole wheat flour, barley, bulgur, bran, raspberries, blackberries, and prunes.

Good sources of fiber include: lettuce, dark leafy greens, broccoli, okra, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, potatoes with the skin, corn, snap beans, asparagus, cabbage, whole wheat pasta, oats, popcorn, nuts, raisins, pears, strawberries, oranges, bananas, blueberries, mangoes, and apples.

Avoiding refined grains — such as white flour, white bread, white pasta, and white rice — and replacing them with whole grains is a great way to boost the amount of fiber in your diet. The Dietary Guidelines recommend at least half your grains be whole grains, but with all of the whole grain options available now, it’s easy to do even better than that.

Whole foods are the preferred way to get fiber, because they also give you nutrients your body needs.

Soluble and Insoluble Fiber

All plant foods have fiber in different amounts.

Most fiber is soluble, meaning that it dissolves in water, or insoluble, meaning that it does not dissolve in water.

 

Soluble Fiber (1)Soluble fiber is found in beans, peas, lentils, oatmeal, oat bran, nuts, seeds, psyllium, apples, pears, strawberries, and blueberries. Soluble fiber is linked to lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, regulating blood sugar, and a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Insoluble FiberInsoluble fiber is found in whole grains, barley, whole-grain couscous, brown rice, bulgur, wheat bran, nuts, seeds, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, nuts, grapes, and tomatoes. It helps keep you regular, prevents constipation, and lowers the chance of getting diverticular disease.

Foods high in fiber can also make you feel full longer and curb overeating. High-fiber foods are filling. They need more chewing, which may help you feel full faster.

Fiber is also linked to a lower risk of certain cancers such as colorectal cancer.

Meal Plan Packed With Fiber

This sample menu for a day gives you 37 grams of fiber:

  • Breakfast: whole-grain bran flake cereal (5 grams of fiber), half a banana (1.5 grams of fiber), and skim milk.
  • Snack: 24 almonds (3.3 grams of fiber) and a quarter cup of raisins (1.5 grams of fiber)
  • Lunch: Turkey sandwich made with 2 slices of whole wheat bread, lettuce, and tomato (5 grams of fiber), and an orange (3.1 grams of fiber)
  • Snack: Yogurt with half a cup of blueberries (2 grams of fiber)
  • Dinner: Grilled fish with a salad of romaine lettuce and shredded carrots (2.6 grams of fiber), half a cup of spinach (2.1 grams of fiber), and half a cup of lentils (7.5 grams of fiber)
  • Snack: 3 cups popped popcorn (3.5 grams of fiber)

7 Ways to Add More Fiber

  1. Start your day with a whole-grain cereal that has at least 5 grams of fiber. Look at the list of ingredients to be sure the whole grain (such as whole wheat, whole rye, or whole oats) is first on the list.
  2. Read labels and choose foods with at least a few grams of fiber per serving. A good source of fiber has 2.5-4.9 grams of fiber per serving. An excellent source has 5 grams or more per serving.
  3. Use whole-grain breads with at least 2-3 grams of fiber per slice for sandwiches.
  4. Choose whole fruit over juice. Whole fruit can have as much as twice the amount of fiber as a glass of juice.
  5. Toss beans into your soups, stews, egg dishes, salads, chili, and Mexican dishes. Substitute beans for all of the meat in at least one vegetarian meal per week.
  6. Experiment with international cuisines (such as Indian or Middle Eastern) that use whole grains and beans in main dishes.
  7. Snack on raw vegetables with bean dip or hummus.

It’s best to boost fiber in your diet gradually and drink plenty of water, so your digestive system has time to adjust.

A good rule of thumb is to add about 5 grams of fiber per day, spread throughout the day, until you reach your goal.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on April 07, 2016

7 Natural, Caffeine-Free Energy Boosters You Can Eat & Drink

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It’s no secret: humans have a love affair with caffeine. Almost every culture prizes it for its ability to keep us awake and alert. The United States alone consumes 971 tons of caffeine a year!

So, is this a healthy love affair or is it time to break up? Most studies suggest limiting caffeine intake to 100-200 mg a day (one 5 oz cup of coffee contains 60-150 mg of caffeine). Because caffeine is a nervous system stimulant and a diuretic, symptoms of overuse can include:

  • Feeling jittery and shaky
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fast and/or irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration

A healthier plan for supercharging energy is in order! No need to feel sluggish and tired–look to these natural energy-boosting superstars:

LEMON WATER

Even mild dehydration has an adverse effect on mood and energy levels. If your excuse for not drinking enough water is because of its lack of flavor, try adding in some fresh lemon juice or any other type of citrus juice. Add a little fresh grated lemon zest if you want to up the ante.

PEPPERMINT TEA

This cooling, revitalizing drink stimulates the trigeminal nerve, which projects directly to the part of your brain that keeps you awake and alert.

WHEATGRASS JUICE

Wheatgrass juice is a source of living chlorophyll (which helps build red blood cells) and is packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Try taking wheatgrass as a supplement in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon, between meals, to support your energy levels.

DARK CHOCOLATE

It’s named Theobroma cacao, meaning “food of the gods,” for good reason! A square or two of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) is the perfect treat: it contains the natural stimulant theobromine, similar to caffeine, which boosts your energy and your mood. Dark chocolate also contains healthy antioxidant flavonoids, which may contribute many health benefits.

SMART CARBS

Forget the fad diets! Carbohydrates are vital for boosting energy and mood. They provide fuel for the body and help raise levels of mood-enhancing serotonin. Of course, not all carbs are created equal. Sweets and simple carbs (like fruit juice, white rice and white flour) cause blood sugar levels to spike and then plummet, which can cause fatigue and moodiness. Whole grains, whole fruits, vegetables, and beans are sources of complex carbs, including fiber, that are absorbed more slowly, helping to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable.

PROTEIN

Protein makes up the enzymes that power many chemical reactions in our bodies. It makes up the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in our blood. Many amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) have effects on mood and energy. Tyrosine, for example, (found in pork, beef, chicken, and turkey) boosts levels of two brain chemicals (dopamine and norepinephrine) that can help you feel more alert and focused. Nuts are an ideal high-protein, high-fiber, high-healthy-fat snack. Cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts in particular are also high in magnesium, which plays a key role in converting sugar to energy.

MEDIUM CHAIN TRIGLYCERIDES (MCT)

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are a unique form of dietary fat that are very efficiently converted into fuel for organs and muscles, translating to increased energy availability and endurance. MCTs are found in butter (grass-fed is best) and coconut oil, and can be taken in supplement form as well.

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5 Beauty Hacks for Dry Skin

5_beauty_hacksYour skin takes a beating. Day after day, it’s on the front line, trying to combat everything that gets thrown at it—sun, wind, heat, air pollution. It’s no wonder that as we age, our skin looks less fresh and more dry. But you can do something about that. Here are five ways to beat dry skin!

1. RETAIN MOISTURE

Moisturizers can help your skin attract and hold water in the outermost layer. Look for products that contain humectants and emollients, which reduce the loss of moisture and protect the skin. Ingredients to look for include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, butylene glycol, and green tea extract.

2. KEEP NATURAL OILS

Your skin produces oils that keep it supple and moisturized. Use cleansers that clean skin but don’t strip oils. Look for sulfate-free cleansers, preferably with natural ingredients like aloe or milk thistle that soothe and protect the skin.

3. INTENSIFY PROTECTION

Sure, you can use sunscreen. But what about protecting your skin from polluted air and other environmental factors? Look for moisturizers or anti-aging products that contain antioxidants and phytonutrients to keep your skin protected from free radicals. These substances, such as green tea extract, milk thistle, bacopa, and turmeric, help you avoid wrinkles, fine lines, and sunspots.

4. ADD NUTRIENTS

Keep your skin healthy from the inside out by increasing vitamins and minerals in your diet. Your skin loves the antioxidants and phytonutrients found in green tea, avocados, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, and fish. Foods that dry your skin include alcohol, salty foods, sugar, processed foods, and coffee, so be sure to eat these foods in moderation to keep your skin fresh.

5. INCREASE BLOOD FLOW

For the healthiest skin, don’t smoke. Smoking decreases blood flow to the small capillaries that reach into the skin, making it hard for oxygen and nutrients to reach the skin. Smoking also damages collagen and elastin, two substances that give your skin strength and elasticity. And those faces smokers make, where they purse their lips and squint to avoid smoke in their eyes, contribute to wrinkles and fine lines. One way to increase blood flow to the skin is dry brushing—just what it sounds like. Get a soft natural-bristle brush and gently brush your skin. In addition to exfoliating the skin, dry brushing increases blood and lymph flow to the area, increasing the likelihood that oxygen and nutrients will reach your skin.

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